I came back from my 2nd DAN Conference in Baltimore full of hope, resolution and strength. It is a long way to travel ‘just’ to learn about how I can treat my girls, the cost alone could have paid for a few months worth of consults and supplements. A couple of months before the conference, I had read the list of speakers and topics they would cover and I found that 90% of it were materials that I had a special interest in. After doing biomedical treatments for Maya for 1 year, she has improved tremendously and we know that her Autism days are far behind. However, I am now trying to resolve her residual health issues.
I was also motivated by the need to address Yasmin’s issues. After doing biomedical treatments for 9 months, we have yet to see real progress in Yasmin. Though she is no longer in a fast-track downward spiral into Autism as before, we are dissatisfied by the lack of breakthroughs. We have consulted several mainstream and biomed doctors for Yasmin, yet no one has been able to address the root cause.
Paul and I worked out our budget trying to squeeze in that extra bit to finance my trip to the US. Again, I went alone as we could not afford for both of us to go. I planned it as carefully as I could, not wanting to leave my girls longer than necessary. No extra day’s grace to get over the jet lag or tiredness from the journey, no extra days for sightseeing or shopping. I was there and back in 6 1/2 days. Looking back, I don’t know how I did it, 27 hours trip to Baltimore and checked into the hotel an hour before the sessions started, and went straight into a 2 hour workshop on Thursday evening. I flew back on Sunday evening immediately after the last lecture, it took me 29 hours to get home. I am blessed to have such a supportive husband, I left my girls in his care and never had to worry if they were ok because I knew that they have a great daddy.
There were several workshops that evening, last year I chose the Family to Family Workshop by Lisa Ackerman, the founder of TACA. So this year, I chose Introduction To Biomedical by Dr Kyle Van Dyke. I felt that I needed to get back to the basics as I felt that there were some gaps in our treatment plans. A frequent speaker at many Autism and biomed conferences, Dr Van Dyke treats children with Autism as well as their siblings. He mentored and worked with Dr Elizabeth Mumper and now runs his own practice in Wisconsin. He became involved with DAN when his son was diagnosed with Autism in 2004.
From then on, the lectures and sessions just got harder and harder, it was the start of 3.5 days of the most intense biomedical and biochemistry lessons I have ever had to do. Friday, Saturday and Sunday was packed with lectures by the heroes of biomed; Dr Sidney Baker, Dr Jeff Bradstreet, Dr Kenneth Bock, Dr Anju Usman, Dr Bryan Jepson, Dr Dan Rossignol and many many more. Everywhere I turned, there was another familiar and famous name next to me. I also had a chance to catch up with Dr Mark Westaway, he is now doing full-time research with Dr Martha Herbert in Harvard for the prestigious TRANSCEND project. I made many new friends, mothers just like me and caught up with old friends too. I had a chance to talk to others who are part of the biomed community, namely compounding pharmacists, biochemists and speciality supplement manufacturers. I met many great mothers from TACA, they are generous with their time and advice. These women are strong and inspiring, no wonder their children are recovered.
Understanding biomed and medical treatments are especially difficult for me as I have never had a head for the sciences. During my high school years, I scored well enough in my SRP to be placed into the Science Stream. But halfway during Form 4, I kept failing Chemistry, Physics and Biology and my mother decided to move me to the Arts Stream. There, I thrived and did well in my studies. So, if I continously failed high school science, how was I going to learn all this? But the desire and motivation to learn this time was far far stronger than 20 years ago. The health of my 2 girls were at stake as well as a great deal of money invested. I had to make sure that I did my best and come back with at least something to show for it.
I came back not only armed with more knowledge on treatments, but also empowerment and strength. It is rare for an Autism Mum be part of the crowd, we are usually the ones hovering on the edge of society and social function because our kids behave atrociously in public. Our choices on how to treat our kids are often questioned, we face censure and judgmental opinions often as others feel that they know what is best for our kids. We are known as Autism Moms, a label I both dislike but am proud of. Here at the conference, WE are part of the norm, everyone I sit next to understands what I’ve been through, everyone I speak to doctors and parents alike do not treat me like an overanxious mother. Even amongst Autism Mums in Malaysia, I often felt isolated because I chose to do biomedical treatments for my child. However, now I’m blessed to have made many close friends as more and more parents are doing biomedical intervention in Malaysia. They are in the unique position of not only being an Autism Mum, but they too are Autism Biomed Mums.
They understand the excitement I felt at acquiring a painting by Mark Rimland, they understand it when I say that I got to bring a piece of Dr Bernard Rimland into my home. They shared in my happiness when I managed to get consults with Dr Kyle Van Dyke. They shared in the excitement when I spoke of talking to Dr Jeff Bradstreet, when Dr Sidney Baker took the time to answer my questions, of bumping into Dr Kenneth Bock every day at the conference. They understood of how I jumped for joy when my shipment of MB12 and DMSA arrived at my hotel. And they understand why I would go to great lengths to keep seeking answers for my children.
Our mother’s instincts is a gift that all mothers have, so use it wisely. Keep on going, don’t stop looking for answers for our kids, travel across oceans if need be. Act with bravery, courage and caution my friends.